hi·​a·​tus | \ hī-ˈā-təs How to pronounce hiatus (audio) \

Definition of hiatus

1a : a break in or as if in a material object : gap the weedy hiatus between the town and the railroad— Willa Cather the hiatus between the theory and the practice of the party— J. G. Colton
b biology : a gap or passage in an anatomical part or organ
2a : an interruption in time or continuity : break especially : a period when something (such as a program or activity) is suspended or interrupted after a 5-year hiatus from writing a summer hiatus
b : the occurrence of two vowel sounds without pause or intervening consonantal sound

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Did You Know?

Hiatus comes from "hiare," a Latin verb meaning "to gape" or "to yawn," and first appeared in English in the middle of the 16th century. Originally, the word referred to a gap or opening in something, such as a cave opening in a cliff. In the 18th century, Laurence Sterne used the word humorously in his novel Tristram Shandy, writing of "the hiatus in Phutatorius's breeches." These days, "hiatus" is usually used in a temporal sense to refer to a pause or interruption (as in a song), or a period during which an activity is temporarily suspended (such as a hiatus from teaching).

Examples of hiatus in a Sentence

The band is making an album again after a five-year hiatus. steam was rising from an hiatus in the ground
Recent Examples on the Web Its first flight after the long hiatus didn’t carry passengers and was noncommercial, the ministry said. Jon Emont, WSJ, "Boeing Plane That Crashed in Indonesia Didn’t Fly for Nine Months," 12 Jan. 2021 And after a decades-long hiatus, Russia’s opening moonshot to reactivate the Russian lunar program plans is known as Luna 25. Popular Science, "Mars missions, a super-powered telescope, and more exciting 2021 space events," 7 Jan. 2021 The slowdown corresponds to a 10°C drop in temperatures in the late Miocene, when ice sheets began to grow across Antarctica after a long hiatus. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "Slowdown in plate tectonics may have led to Earth’s ice sheets," 22 Dec. 2020 How to regain theatergoer investment after such a long hiatus is the looming question. Los Angeles Times, "My dream for theater: Toss the old business model in the dumpster fire of 2020," 21 Dec. 2020 After a season-long hiatus, minor league baseball will return in April. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "When does minor league baseball start? MLB unveils schedule, with Class AAA starting on April 6," 19 Dec. 2020 Snyder drew parallels between the players getting together Friday and the team’s return to action earlier this year following a months-long hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Mike Conley in NBA’s COVID-19 protocol as Utah Jazz take part in first group practice," 4 Dec. 2020 Who season following a decade-long hiatus from the show. Clark Collis, EW.com, "Doctor Who holiday special teaser reveals return of beloved character," 23 Nov. 2020 Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, returned to federal court Tuesday after a long hiatus to accuse Democrats in control of big cities of hatching a nationwide conspiracy to steal the election. Colleen Long , Zeke Miller, Star Tribune, "Trump, allies make frantic steps to overturn Biden victory," 19 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hiatus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hiatus

1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hiatus

Latin, from hiare to yawn — more at yawn

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Last Updated

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hiatus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hiatus. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for hiatus



English Language Learners Definition of hiatus

: a period of time when something (such as an activity or program) is stopped


hi·​a·​tus | \ hī-ˈāt-əs How to pronounce hiatus (audio) \

Medical Definition of hiatus

: a gap or passage through an anatomical part or organ especially : an opening through which another part or organ passes (such as the opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus and vagus nerves pass)

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